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tv   CNN Saturday Morning  CNN  February 13, 2010 6:00am-7:30am EST

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well, good morning, everybody. from the cnn center, this is cnn saturday morning. it's not valentine's day yet. it's tomorrow, the 14th. a lot of people getting ready for that, but we're getting ready for a big day today. a lot to tell you about. good morning to you, all, i'm t.j. holmes. >> hello, everybody, i'm betty nguyen. it is the biggest battle yet and happening right now. we have exclusive video. a u.s. -- our u.s. troops and coalition forces there in afghanistan battling the taliban. and we are all over this story. and the winter olympics getting off to a tragic, tragic start even before the games get
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going, a death for a young man who was set to make his olympics debut. >> sad. and a major clean-up after a winter storm just slams into the southeast. we have the latest from all of that coming up. certainly one of our biggest stories this morning to tell you about. the largest military offensive in the afghan war. that tops our look at your stories right now. nato forces being led by u.s. and afghan troops battling taliban fighters in the town. it is the last stronghold of the taliban in the region. we are getting word that three u.s. service members have been killed in afghanistan today, however, they died in an ied attack that was not related to the marjah offensive. also this, three people dead, three wounded after a shooting at the university of alabama. at that university in huntsville, the suspect is an
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assistant biology professor. now, take a listen to what she had to say. we don't have that sound for you right now. but again, i want to remind you that three people are dead. the suspect's name is amy bish sh bishop. reporting that she was angry. now no students were involved in that shooting. >> and again, that olympic athlete dying after an awful accident at the winter olympics in vancouver. the georgian athlete his name is nodar after a high-speed sled race. this is a race going down the hills at some 80 to 90 miles per hour and he crashed and hit a pole. now several athletes had already complained about the tracks because there was some safety concerns that this thing was too fast.
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there'd been some other accidents. the olympic committee says that track will remain open for now, at least. i want to turn back to that offensive in afghanistan. it includes some 5,000 u.s. service members and also about 2,000 afghan forces. >> covering the story from the afghan capital of kabul. nic robertson reports from london on the involvement of british troops and barbara starr handles the news coming out of the pentagon. so let's get to a trkatia, repo earlier this morning that the taliban make nearly $200 million a year. >> the marines want to get the taliban out of town. we have reports from all of those people we mentioned, all our correspondents, want to start with barbara starr. >> reporter: the u.s. military has been talking openly about the operation for days, signalling the taliban that marjah in helmand province is
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the next objective for u.s. forces. it's a poppy growing district and one of the last strongholds of the taliban. the objective is to get the taliban on the run, leave the region, and u.s. and afghan forces can establish enough security to protect civilians and leave the taliban no safe haven to return to. but there are risks. u.s. marines will have to travel the region mainly on foot practical, trying to avoid ieds, ambushes, and suicide bombers that may be lying in wait. u.s. commanders say it's too early to say whether the taliban will cut and run or stay and fight. and the ultimate challenge, can the shaky afghan government provide the security the people of marjah need to ultimately keep the taliban at bay? barbara starr, cnn, washington. >> i want to go live now to the afghan capital.
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our frederick pleitgen is there in kabul keeping an eye on things. give us just the update. things been going on for 12 plus hours now. what are you hearing? >> reporter: yeah, t.j., this had been started in the way early morning hours today with an air assault by british forces and afghan forces. so on the one hand, you had the coalition forces coming in from the air trying to establish a foothold in that town of marjah trying to set the stage for the ground forces that then moved in subsequently. now, the biggest issue that they have and it's something that goes back to what barbara was just saying is that the taliban have planted a ring of improvised explosive devices around the town of marjah, so the marines are using heavy breaching equipment to get around that ring of devices to make lanes for their forces to move in. what we're hearing from our people on the ground is that there is scattered resistance to the marines and the other forces on the ground here. we're hearing of gun battle, rpg
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fires, and also the occasional improvised explosive device being set off. so far, we have no information as to any coalition losses in that area of those three u.s. service members that were killed you were talking about before, as you said were killed in kandahar, not part of this operation. however, we do know that so far according to the afghan government five taliban have been killed, eight taliban have been taken into custody. certainly this operation is ongoing, the marines are establishing that foothold as they go along. their main objective, of course, is to get this town under control as fast as possible. and the big unknown is -- and barbara said, as well, will the taliban ultimately put up a fight right now? it looks as though they're resorting to what they usually do, which is hit-and-run tactics rather than open toe-to-toe battles, t.j. >> can you tell us the civilians heed the warning and get out of town before this offensive?
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>> not as many as were believed. one thing that nato was telling them beforehand for a long time, they were dropping leaflets to ask them to leave the area or stay in their houses. i've been in the past couple of days talking to people who chose to leave the area. what we're hearing from the government is that it was maybe 200 or 300 families who left the marjah and the district surrounding marjah. that's a couple hundred, maybe a little over 1,000 people. and if you think about the fact this whole area has about 100,000 people in it, then the exitous was certainly not as big as some would've thought. this plays into what the u.s. and nato wants. because what they want is to get this offensive going, go down hard on the taliban, shield the civilians, and then have the civilians in the town to start rebuilding the government institutions there. it's very, very important that the people don't leave or don't leave in great numbers so they
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can start getting governance going in marjah. and this is something the u.s. has been saying again and again. the main objective is convincing the people in marjah that their government is a better alternative than the taliban who have been governing them de facto for a very long time now, t.j. >> we appreciate the update. we'll be checking in with you plenty this morning. thank you so much. as we told you right now, american forces are involved in fighting one of the largest operations of the afghan war. >> what are the challenges they're facing on the ground? we have experts going to help us out this morning to spell out the path ahead. and the southeast, slowed by all of that snow, still digging out. and yet another winter storm, say it isn't so. bonnie schneider. >> we're still tallying the snowfall totals. and this is atlanta where we had several inches of fall yesterday. plus we'll have your snowfall
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totals across the southeast all coming up. [ glynda ] blue label laptops are amazing.
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taking place not going to happen because all of that white stuff. how cute, kids are getting out -- kids love this. i saw them yesterday throwing snowballs. it's a great time except if you're driving on all of this slippy stuff. >> and we do. just across the street from us, centennial, olympic park. and overnight, some of that snow and some of that slush kind of froze. and that caused a big problem for those trying to get into work at 3:00 this morning. that kind of caused an issue. for the most part, it's a saturday, it's good. actually we don't get this a lot at atlanta. people can stay in, enjoy the weather, watch daytona, enjoy the valentine's day. it's nice. and in your home state of texas, things got ugly. >> i was talking to my mom this week and she was saying it just keeps snowing and snowing. they had record snowfall in the dallas area. let's get the latest on someone who knows all about this, bonny schneider in live for reynolds wolf who is probably at home where it's nice and warm.
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>> he was out there in the snow for a while. >> that's true. is it true? i was reading somewhere that possibly there's snow in all 50 states. is that true? >> there's snow in 49, except for hawaii. that's debatable because some people say at the high elevations of the mountains you can see snow. but you were talking earlier about dallas, i wanted to mention on thursday we had the snowiest day ever in dallas. your mother was telling you the truth. it did not stop snowing until there was a foot of snow on the ground. and yes, not just snow in texas. look at these numbers, these are preliminary reports. we may fine tune them through the morning. atlanta, georgia, 3.6 inches of snow, macon saw 2.0 inches, birmingham, alabama, 4 inches, jackson, mississippi, 4.1, and columbia, 5 inches of snow. it is not often, once every 50 years where you start talking about huge snowfall totals like you see here for these cities. and even in florida, pensacola,
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florida, there was a trace of snow. that's why we are saying there is snow on the ground in florida. maybe a tiny bit. might have already melted. but let's take a look at where it's snowing right now, where the storm is. it's not over yet. we still have that wrap around effect. watch out for snow on virginia beach this morning, snow on the outer banks of north carolina, and then offshore, as the storm encounters milder conditions, we're getting very heavy thunderstorms. it's almost over. i want to take a closer look for those of you that do have to wake up early and maybe head out somewhere. if you're in the outer banks area or into greenville, north carolina, watch out because we still have snow falling. we even have snow in those golf courses across myrtle beach. and t.j., you were mentioning about the temperatures. it is very cold out there, i mentioned driving particularly on the side streets, watch out for that black ice. 25 degrees outside in atlanta. charlotte, north carolina, also saw about 5 inches of snow, and we have 25 degrees outside. now that the snow is gone and
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skies have cleared, we're really looking at a cold, cold saturday morning. so if you can stay inside, that's highly advisable. for the weekend, have a great presidents day and valentine's day weekend. batten down the hatches. >> light a fire, stay inside. >> great that it happened on a weekend. >> that's true. >> so maybe we can enjoy this. >> we've already got the warning to stay inside from the expert. so hey, too bad we can't do that. >> and i don't think reynolds made it back. >> reynolds, if you're watching, we're thinking about you. >> we are thinking about you. we're keeping an eye on afghanistan. thousands of troops fighting in southern afghanistan. >> they're targeting the helmand province, and josh levs here with a closer look at the territory. give us an idea of what kind of terrain and what this area is like. >> yeah, exactly. we're going to take you all the way inside. you'll be able to see. and also what this site undersiege in afghanistan
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afghanistan war in general, we know it's going to be hard to wrap your mind around whatever the latest development is. which is why we have cnn.com/afghanistan that helps you do that. but i want to start off with one of the features we have for you. which is we basically zoom you into the area where this is going on. and just so you get a basic sense of the kind of location we're talking about. it's going to be the stretch down there in the south. and as we know, major taliban stronghold area where there's a lot of poppy growing, which as you know the opium trade's a huge problem inside afghanistan. that right there is the key area that is basically undersiege right now the area that the nato is facing along with afghan troops, which means a lot of u.s. troops right there. now, we have something that i think is pretty striking. we're seeing the big picture a lot. you're going to be hearing from us about it all day. but we also have the words for you of a commander of nato. it's a british commander. this is what he told his troops just before they went into that
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mission. >> on this mission is a historic mission. we are really at a point, a tipping point in the future of the campaign. and i'm absolutely convinced of the necessity for this mission. because by doing this and clearing this particular area, we will ensure that we have government of afghanistan influence right the way through central helmand. >> and you can be able to hear more of that and read a lot more about it too at our website cnn.com/afghanistan. let's zoom in for a second. this is called afghanistan crossroads and packed with blogs and pictures from the ground. and as this mission develops. as you see more and more things happen in the coming days, we will be filling this with more and more pictures. while i have the screen up, this is the thing i want to end on here. let's zoom way in. we have for you every single casualty in the entire afghanistan war and from the coalition.
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not just from the u.s. troops. you can search by date and name. we have pictures of every single soldier that has died in this war. their hometown, age, how they were killed, how they gave their lives and information about them. individual stories about all the troops in the afghanistan war who have served as part of the u.s. led coalition. and all of that is a web address on your screen cnn.com/afghanistan. betty, t.j., i'm going to be hitting that often. just because any time we talk about the afghan war, that's important. >> a lot going on today, very important day. and we're going to be following it every step of the way. thank you for that. it's not just americans taking part in this offensive. >> nic robertson will join us with the latest from london where we're learning about the uk's involvement in this operation. ks to you so i am ready to get back out there. alright. that's great. i want to personally thank you for 100 calorie hearty chicken rotini. well, it's not just me. you're so funny. i like you. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
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checking our top stories right now. a national day of mourning in haiti, one month after the earthquake that devastated the country. thousands of people, they gathered in port-au-prince yesterday for a remembrance service to honor the dead. more than 212,000 people died and more than 300,000 were injured. i want you to tune into cnn at 2:00 p.m. eastern today for
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quincy jones' collaborative remix of "we are the world" all to support the haiti relief victims. it'll feature jamie foxx, linel ritchie who spearheaded the original with jones will close the simulcast. the centers for disease control and prevention estimates as many as 17,000 americans have died from the h1n1 flu. only about 2,500 of those deaths are confirmed. health officials blame that on an underreporting of cases which tends to be common with the flu. after a month of the outbreak, doctors began testing only those who were severely sick. folks in the south hoping that warmer weather in the forecast for today will melt some of that snow away. about 8 inches fell in mississippi, but other areas got a lot less. many flights, though, canceled, and schools, they've been closed. as we've been reporting this morning, right now u.s. nato afghan forces in the midst of one of the largest offenses in
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afghanistan, the largest since that war started. here with a unique perspective is a senior political scientist with iran corporation. she spent some time working with the u.n. in afghanistan. thank you so much for being with us this morning. i talked to another gentleman about this offensive earlier this week and yes, it's huge, but he didn't seem to think it would be much of a turning point if you will. just another step in a long process. do you agree with that? >> well, of course, it is a long process. but there are a number of things about this operation which is very distinctive. so in previous operations, we had a small footprint of troops and soldiers would call it mowing the lawn. because they would go in and clear the area of the taliban, but there wouldn't be enough troops to hold the ground and the taliban would come back. so the operation reflects a number of things about this operation which is very different. first, it's huge. second, there is a substantial degree of afghan involvement. previous engagements there would be one afghan soldier for every
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ten international soldiers. and here it's one to two. the second thing is that karzai was briefed. he may have initially been reticent, but he did ultimately bless it. and the third, reflecting the afghan position behind this was that there was actually a tribal of about 400 elders who blessed this operation while expressing their concerns. well, there are a number of issues that certainly loom. and that is that once the area's cleared and you have soldiers that are staying in, will the afghan government get its act together and get down there and actually provide some governance? and apparently there is a government in the box waiting for this. >> you talked about the involvement of afghans and we talked about the leadership. what about the afghan citizens? and some of the citizens there depend on some of this -- that farming and that poppy, that opium trade down there.
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how do they view the americans coming in there and essentially cleaning the place up? >> well, these actually are the longer term issues. so the longer term issue is going to be what they called the build phase and the clear hold and build. what's interesting about this particular area, the reason why it's so fertile is about 50 years ago, the americans built that canal system. so the long-term plan is that they're going to be able to get in there and replace poppy agriculture with something else. that's obviously long-term. the other interesting thing, which is a big question mark as far as i'm concerned is that one of the objectives of this operation is to knock the taliban around and to try to convince some of the foot soldiers as well as the low and mid-level commanders that they might want to integrate. and i'm saying reintegrate not reconciliation. because this isn't about politically compromising with the taliban. so one question, of course, is -- is this going to be an adequately successful campaign
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that it's going to motivate some of those talabs to reintegrate. >> i want to pick up on that point when we talk to you again about that essentially negotiating and sometimes buying the loyalties of these taliban members. and can you buy it long-term? you might get it for the short-term, but eventual lip down the road, they're going to turn on you again. christine fair, so good having you this morning. >> thank you for having me. the mid-atlantic states recovering from this week's snow, folks got plenty of it. >> plenty of it. and we're getting our go of it down in the south here. the work may not end soon. there's another system, sights on which region this time. and how long do residents have before the next round arrives? >> that's pretty. >> if you're not driving in it. >> if you're not dealing with it. code orange. a cherry tree with chills. code orange. the late night heat wave.
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hello, everybody. good morning on this saturday. welcome back. we appreciate you being with us today. i'm betty nguyen. >> and i'm t.j. holmes, glad you could start your day right here. let's get right to it. checking our top stories. an assistant professor at the university of alabama in huntsville is facing murder charges this morning. police say amy bishop who teaches biology at this school went on a shooting ram pain killing three faculty members. three others were wounded. and according to cnn affiliate wff, authorities say it occurred at a faculty meeting when bishop learned she would not receive tenure. florida police have arrested a man suspected in a string of shootings in tampa. the ram pain started at a convenience store yesterday where 53-year-old andre watkins stole a pickup truck. he is also suspected of
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critically wounding two other people in separate shootings. >> that was the man accused of robbing banks in florida, wrong video. sorry about that, folks. i want to tell you about this. an olympic athlete died after an awful accident in vancouver. kumaritashvili was killed after performing a practice run for the luge, the high-speed sled race where the rider sleds face up. now several athletes had voiced concerns about the track's safety after other accidents. the olympic committee has decided the track will remain open for now. and half a world away, u.s., british, and afghan forces are putting their lives on the line. right now, at this hour in one of largest offenses in the afghan war. we've been talking about this throughout the morning and we'll continue to do so, but in the pre-dawn hours, 60 helicopters hovered in the skies above the town of marjah, 15,000 soldiers moved in, and there are explosives buried everywhere on the ground. our nic robertson is outside the
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british prime minister's house at 10 downing street. nic, give us the latest about what you know in that offensive at this hour. >> reporter: well, there are a number of british troops involved in that offensive. possibly as many as 1,000 along with canadian and u.s. marines and afghan forces, as many as 1,500 afghan troops. the operation has already run into fire fights, troop landing from helicopters, taking up positions as our reporting, exchanges of gunfire, rocket-propelled grenades fired at them. a number of taliban have been killed so far, exactly how many isn't clear. ministry of defense will be giving their briefing in a few hour's time, which will perhaps give us some concrete details of what's happening on the ground. but already the fight's beginning. >> when it comes to the difficulties that these troops face, give us an idea. because we're reading that there are land mines in some areas, some of the buildings are booby
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trapped. >> reporter: the taliban has the advantage of knowing the operation's coming so they can plan and prepare for it. nato will have uav drone aircraft watching overhead. but the taliban will have been burying ieds and they'll know the fields and exactly where the troops have to go through, you know, a gap in a wall or a particular place that's going to be easier for them to get around a particular field with irrigation canals and they'll try to use that knowledge to place their ieds in the right places to target the troops. watching one of these two years ago, marines in helmand taking on the taliban close to this same area, the marines back then were able to fire heavy artillery rounds, thousands of rounds were fired and the battle lasted for a month. this time marines and other forces don't have that opportunity because they're trying to minimize civilian casualties. so the taliban are going to take advantage of that, as well. wherever there are civilians,
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they know it'll be much harder for nato forces to pull heavy fire power on them. >> many of the civilians did decide not to leave. which means if this turns into urban warfare house to house, they may not be able to tell who is taliban and who's not. >> reporter: it's very tough, particularly going in an operation at night it's very tough. and how do you tell a taliban? because they don't wear a uniform. and in many cases, some of the people fighting the taliban there will be local farmers. this is an agricultural area. if you think of it more as sort of a large sprawling area fields with the sort of small clustered, small towns where perhaps there's an intersection, a main cross roads where you'll have, perhaps as many as 20 to 40 small sort of one-room stores and scattered housing around there. that's what the troops are facing. the marines going in, it's not like the operation in fallujah and iraq in 2004 where the residents are cleared out.
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it was house to house fighting. this is much more open and spread out. much tougher in many ways to know exactly where the taliban are going to be hiding and in whose house and how many civilians, women and children. this is we use to the advantage. the troops know this going in. know this is what they're up against, and they're going to have a lot of high-tech capability uavs and such providing on the ground realtime information for them. >> it's a difficult operation underway at this hour. nic robertson live from london. thank you so much for that insight. and we've been talking about how big this operation is. you're hearing a lot now about the city of marjah in helmand province. it is very important to nato. >> and cnn's tom foreman tells us why. >> betty, t.j., this is ground zero for this. helmand province in afghanistan. why does that matter so much? first, look at where the u.s.
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troops have been in this country. up here along the pakistan border and down in the south. that is where the taliban is strong. as you can see in the red sections here. and now they're going after a real stronghold of the taliban, marj marjah, this is an opium-producing area. so it's been a source of funding for taliban, also for weapons running here. what is a plan for attacking it while keeping the civilian casualties to a minimum? well, the idea is they'll circle first and strike in with helicopters and with specialized strike forces, increasing pressure on the inside. trying to keep down civilian casualties and yet put pressure on the taliban. maybe the pressure makes them flee, maybe they stand and fight. we'll find out. we do know already that there are targets here that matter a great deal. for example, they're going to pay a lot of attention to potential choke points and transportation points like bridges, like this one over here.
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they're also going to pay a lot of attention to things like roads that become critical for people moving out. for example, this one right here runs from marjah up to lascarga. and many of the refugees have been going out this way. these are critical things they'll have to watch as they strike this area. what will they find? that's the big question. as these days go on and this attack continues, there's always a big question mark about the degree people will stand and fight. and one of the best ways to know is to look back in history. if we fly over iran here over to iraq, we can see the town of fallujah where there is also a similar strategy in the past where they surrounded the town some years ago in a major, major battle trying to get the insurgents there. they thought at the time that many of the insurgents would flee, many of them did not. and a battle that was supposed to last about 90 hours, in fact, went on for many weeks. betty, t.j.?
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well, the weather is now severely south. it was severe, bonnie -- >> and severe. >> for the past couple of weeks we've been talking about the northeast got hit back to back. but now it's our turn here in the south. >> and it's all related, t.j. and betty. you know that big storm that brought the snow to washington pulled down the colder air and dropped down to the heart of the south. and with that cold air, when storm systems started coming through, there's enough moisture and cold air to create this, lots of snow. 3.6 inches on the ground in atlanta right now. so be careful, there's a lot of black ice out there, the roads are not completely plowed, of course, in the south. we don't have the snowplows like they do in the north. macon, georgia, 2 inches, birmingham, alabama, 4 inches. 5 inches in columbia, south carolina. and speaking of the carolinas, that's where the storm continues to kind of give its last licks
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to. we're seeing snow across virginia beach into the outer banks of north carolina. temperatures are cold enough for it to stick. look at these numbers, it's 21 degrees in birmingham, 25 in atlanta. so really cold air came in just like the storm in the mid-atlantic that pulled in the colder air. this one did the same thing. we're waking up to colder temperatures than what we saw yesterday. be careful once again if you are doing some shoveling because we are going to be seeing frigid conditions there across the region. just to let you know what is ahead for the rest of the week, things look pretty quiet when you're looking at the country. this storm winding up and pulling away. may clip the mid-atlantic with tiny showers. but notice the activity starting to get going across part of the planes and the midwest. believe it or not, there's another storm system that's going to come through and this could be a snowmaker coming through. this may be a clipper system that will clip the mid-atlantic and it could bring some snow showers, possibly several inches to washington and baltimore
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again. now, we're not looking at a major storm. this isn't going to be a nor'easter that will be long lasting, but it does bring that chance of snow back in the forecast for presidents day, monday and possibly tuesday for washington, d.c. and this holds true for baltimore, as well. this pattern is persisting straight through the spring where we could see these winter storms in mid-atlantic. stay tuned, cnn saturday morning will be right back. (announcer) the #1 prescribed acid reducer brand over the last decade... ...is now over the counter at walmart as prevacid 24hr -
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checking our top stories right now, a national day of mourning in haiti. one month after the earthquake that just devastated the country. thousands of people gathered in port-au-prince yesterday for a service to honor the dead. more than 212,000 people lost their lives in the quake and more than 300,000 were injured. republican senator lindsey graham spearheading a campaign to block funding of a trial of khalid shaikh mohammed. graham argued for a military commission. >> al qaeda terrorists should not receive more rights than a nazi war criminal and now is not the time to go back to the pre-9/11 mentality of fighting crimes instead of fighting a war. civilian trial of hard-core terrorists is dangerous and creates more problems than it solves. >> the white house says it's still considering a decision to try the 9/11 suspects in new
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york. bill clinton is resting at his home two days after undergoing an angioplasty but has no plans to slowing down and looking forward to getting back to work. thursday doctors implanted stents and they say there's no evidence of heart damage and call his prognosis excellent.
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getting food to the sick and hungry in washington, that is a difficult job now that two snowstorms that turned the roadways into just that giant obstacle course. >> it may have become an impossible mission until more than 100 volunteers decided to take it up as a challenge. >> reporter: digging out after the storm, difficult for most of
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us, essentially impossible for some. like 56-year-old juan davis of tacoma park, maryland. >> i've been hiv positive for about 15 years. hiv disease has been a big struggle. >> reporter: davis lives alone and depends on services from food and friends, a washington, d.c. nonprofit. they deliver daily meals to people with life challenging illnesses, but also provide a dose of human connection. >> it's funny, i listen for the doorbell. i almost sit in front of the door waiting for them to come. >> reporter: in its 22-year history, the organization has never closed. but then came the snow, which shuttered its doors, not once, but twice in just a matter of days. >> going outside, negotiating those slippery streets, even putting yourself at risk of catching a cold. i mean, that's -- that is a serious concern for you. >> that's something that i always think about. i'm very, very conscious of trying to maintain my health.
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i consider myself a long-term survivor. >> reporter: on a typical day, this is how much food would need to be delivered at food and friends, but an historic amount of snowfall requires unprecedented measures. now all this food needs to head out the door today with help from about 100 brand new volunteers. people like nick and hillary who with their children stepped in to help. >> you didn't have much trouble getting in, did you? >> no, the only issue was the snow outside. >> well, of course -- >> reporter: but food and friends isn't the only place seeing good will. >> here's sweet potatoes, we've got greens, all kinds of stuff, all the stuff we used to have to cook with immediately, now we can cook year round. >> reporter: at the soup kitchen that also trains and employs the formally homeless. there are extra helpings of help. >> this is why we're here today. this is why we're here every day. it's a very special day because
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it's cold with a lot of snow. >> i feel like santa claus in february. >> a little bit. but whatever we can do to help, we're happy to do that. >> thank you, again. >> reporter: cnn washington. a lot of people deal with issues with their weight. a lot of people actually gain or lose a little bit every single day. >> depends on how much you eat, i suppose. a large lunch today, you know, you're going to weigh a little bit more. but what if that up and down actually could cost you a shot at olympic gold? that is what happened to one olympic boxer. now he's turning his missed chance into a golden teaching opportunity. it doesn't take much;
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well, as the vancouver olympics get underway, one american boxer is trying to put his olympic experience behind him. now, i introduced you to gary russell in 2008. his parents were trying to raise money to see him fight in china and gary got his wish. his parents were right there ring side. but the end result was one he'd rather forget. >> reporter: the gym, a place to train, perhaps even to forget. gary russell fulfilled a lifelong dream by making it to the olympics. but the experience left him with an empty feeling. >> i kick myself almost every day. i actually now starting to get over it.
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>> reporter: gary trained long and hard for his big moment. he was favored to medal in beiji beijing, but when it came time for his final weigh-in, he came in two pounds over his limit for his weight class. long story short, he missed his chance to fight. gary was crushed. >> i let those people down who supported me, you know. >> reporter: teddy atlas was in beijing and saw what happened and he didn't sugar coat his words. >> with great privilege comes great responsibility, and he missed the boat on that responsibility. >> reporter: but atlas also says this setback isn't as bad as some may think. >> without the olympics having quite the status they used to have, he didn't lose as much as he would've 15 or 20 years ago when it meant so much more. >> reporter: having missed his olympic window, gary decide to turn pro and he is off to a blazing 6-0 start, including this knockout a few months ago.
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but it's what gary's doing outside of the ring that's also drawing some attention. the one-time olympic hopeful has taken it upon himself to speak to youngsters in the d.c. area. talking about his experience in beijing and how not to let setbacks and disappointment get in the way of what they want to do in life. >> you want to always persevere. does anybody know what persevere mean? it means keep pushing forward no matter what happens. >> he'll always remember the support he got from everyone leading up to the olympics. and still to this day. >> trying to give back to the community. >> reporter: it's that attitude that has 1976 gold medallist and six-time boxing champion sugar ray leonard saying, bravo. >> i'm more impressed with what he's doing talking to these kids and athletes. the fact that is such great information to say you know what? if you stumble, don't give up. don't forfeit your dreams.
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pursue, persevere. >> reporter: with family and friends by his side, gary says he's grown a lot since beijing. >> i think everything happens for a reason. >> but there's still work to do, unfinished business. >> i don't regret anything that happened at the olympics, because i wouldn't be as motivated as i am now. >> he says the world didn't get a chance to meet him in china, but he says they'll find out who he is soon enough. >> i feel as though i have to make it up to them. by becoming the champion as a professional. just to show them that everything that happened, all the love that you gave me wasn't in vain. >> quite a story there. gary is doing his best to put beijing behind him and sends his best to the team in vancouver telling them go all out and go after it because this is a moment they may not ever experience again. good luck to the u.s. team. >> the winter guys don't have the concern he would have as a
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boxer. those weights and a lot of time -- >> two pounds. >> it's a big, big deal. often times they can take a couple of hours, go run around the block, they wrap up in that foil and they can drop a few pounds real quick, but i don't know if they give you the same option. that's tough. >> that's so tough. well, so much coming up, including the weather. it is severe in many, many places and bonnie schneider with a look at that. and we're going to start the next hour here in a moment. a good shot outside, actually. this is centennial olympic park right across the street from us here. and what you see down there, there's atlanta somewhere down there. we have a layer of about 4 inches of snow here. it's ice now because overnight we got temperatures that went real, real low. it's a good thing it happened on the weekend. we can hunker down -- >> you actually drove in it. >> i drove in. i know a lot of us --
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>> you were so confident yesterday until you got on that ice. we tried to tell him yesterday, stay at the hotel so he wouldn't have to deal with this. but not daredevil t.j. holmes, he decided to slip and slide. >> i made it just fine, but again, i haven't been home since last sunday. i was itching -- >> but t.j., you're not alone, i was a meteorologist and i was also told to stay at the hotel and i drove here too. but i don't live too far. so i agree. it's funny, the wrs of the roads are the side streets, especially here in atlanta. be careful, there is a lot of ice out there. and before the sun comes up, it's difficult to see exactly what you're facing if you do have to travel. now, for those of you in the outer banks of north carolina or even further to the north and to virginia, you still have snow falling right now. so that means visibility will be poor throughout the morning hours. this is the tail end of this system that brought the heavy snow across parts of the south. the same storm system that brought a foot of snow to dallas, texas, on thursday, which shattered a record that went all the way back to 1888.
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that's how long it's been since we've had that much snow on february 11th in dallas, texas. incredible numbers with this storm system. now, outside right now, the temperature in washington, d.c. where we're still shoveling out from all of the snow, through the snowiest winter season yet in washington and baltimore, it's still below freezing there, but also very cold to the south. charlotte, north carolina, had about 5 inches of snow from the storm yesterday. and you're still shoveling out and we have about 25 degrees there. so it's very cold and also very cold in atlanta where the temperature right now is 25 degrees. and speaking of the south. i wanted to show you what happens after you get a real strong storm system. it pulls down colder air and the skies clear out overnight. and without the clouds acting as a blanket to keep the heat at the surface, boy, do things cool down fast. the numbers now in mississippi and alabama are in the 20s and birmingham is only 21 degrees. and incidentally when we had the bigger storm system, it pulled down drastically colder air. and the reason we saw the snow
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as far south as alabama and even the panhandle of florida, pensacola reported a trace of snow yesterday, it has to do with our weather pattern known as el nino. it has to do with a warming in the pacific and it does allow that southern branch of the jet stream to pick up the storms and bring them through the south. that's a look at your weather. stay tuned, we have a lot more coming up. ...it's easy to feel like you're fading into the background. that's because bipolar depression doesn't just affect you. it can consume you. one option proven effective to treat bipolar depression... is seroquel xr. for many, it's one pill, once a day. here is some important safety information you should be aware of. call your doctor if you have unusual changes in mood, behavior... ...or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children... ...teens and young adults. elderly dementia patients taking seroquel xr have an increased risk of death. call your doctor if you develop fever... ...stiff muscles, and confusion
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from the cnn center this is cnn saturday morning. >> good morning, everybody, i'm betty nguyen. let's get right to it. the biggest battle yet and it's happening right now in afghanistan. we have exclusive video as u.s. troops and coalition forces battled the taliban. just a look at that right there. we are all over this story, don't go anywhere. also, he was just days away from making his olympic debut, but instead tragedy in vancouver. an athlete is dead and it overshadows the opening ceremony. and cleaning up this morning after another winter storm slams into the southeast.
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we have the latest on that. but again, we want to tell you about the big story we're going to be keeping an eye on today. nato troops say they're gaining ground in a major offensive against taliban militants in southern afghanistan. afghan as well as nato forces including nearly 5,000 u.s. forces launched operation together about 14 hours ago in the town of marjah, the last taliban stronghold in helmand. an assistant professor at the university of alabama is facing murder charges this morning. police say amy bishop went on a shooting ram pain killing three faculty members. three others were wounded, and according to waff, authorities say the shooting occurred at a faculty meeting in which bishop learned she would not receive tenure. president obama talking spending and how to keep it in check in his weekly radio and web address. he laid out the reasons and said new spending and tax cuts need to be offset in order to start
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digging ourselves out. the president signed a pay as you go rule into right after he authorized $1.9 trillion more of the federal debt. so we have several correspondents covering this big offensive in afghanistan. >> federik pleitgen this morning, also nic robertson in london, and barbara starr from the pentagon today, and kate bolduan from the white house. >> and the taliban make nearly $2.5 million a year from narcotics trade in marjah. now the nato troops want to put an end to that and run the taliban out of town. that is part of this offensive. and barbara starr joins us now to talk more about it. we know the pentagon was talking about this operation in detail even before it happened. why is that? >> well, betty, they have really been trying to, if you will, shape their battlefields. get their messages out there
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about why they were doing this, they wanted first perhaps, to make the afghan people in this region aware that fighting would take place. in the early hours now, we know that the u.s. marines have gained a toe hold in the town of marjah, but they are encountering gunfire, rocket propelled grenades, opposition from what they believe to be several hundred taliban fighters in these early hours of the campaign. the ultimate goal here, however, the ultimate message if you will is that the u.s. nato afghan forces are here to try and offer the people in this region another way of life. something other than the opium trade to fuel the taliban which fuels the insurgency, of course. so that's the goal here. move into this agricultural region, clean out the taliban as a sort of comeback goal. but then rapidly move in with afghan government help, economic
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aid, assistance, and provide a government and a security umbrella to the people who were here. that will be a very deep long standing challenge the afghan government, very fragile, remains to be seen if they can pull it all off. betty? >> as you mention, it is going to be a challenge because many of the folks who live there have worked alongside with the taliban. they've set up a shadow government, if you will. and many don't see the benefit in losing their opium crops and losing their money and then hoping that the afghan government will come in and restore everything, correct? >> well, that is the challenge. and again, it gets back to what you were just saying that the afghan government will come in and offer help and assistance. that's what the u.s. wants to have happen. because the concern, of course, is that the u.s. forces, british forces not appear as occupiers. the people who live in this region, you know, this is their home. they have been very concerned about civilian casualties as a
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result of the fighting. and that is another challenge here. how do you distinguish between the afghan farmer and the afghan taliban who may be picking up his rifle if you're a marine and firing that over top of one of those mud walls? the troops in this region are under very strict rules of engagement about being cautious, about not engaging in combat where civilians could be killed. there's a lot of concern on the part of the young troops that this is going to tie their hands. they're moving to an area that is very rural, very agricultural, but yet, a lot of civilian population. ieds, roadside bombs, ambushes, sniper attacks possible. very slow going, they're on the ground, going on foot bit by bit. >> yeah. >> and moving through these areas which are a combination as you said as both civilians and taliban. >> it is a dangerous situation that is playing out right now as we speak. barbara starr, thank you so
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much. >> and like we mentioned, our atia abawi is embedded in afghanistan. hello to you again. if you can, give us the very latest about the offensive there. and i believe that u.s. forces believe they are making some head way. >> reporter: well, t.j., it started at 2:00 a.m. local time. we were with the main effort, that's the first battalion regimen. and i have to tell you, it was a very hard start. because it was in the dark hours of the night. you could not see, it was a rough terrain. the four wounded within the company, it was minor injuries, it had to do with the terrain not enemy contact. but throughout the day, especially when the sun came up, the fire fights did start. we were running through the fields being shot at.
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there was -- they were firing rpgs, sporadic gunfire. there's bravo company as well on the other part of the city where we were hearing other gun battles, as well. and other companies on ground by vehicles. and they have these vehicles. so we are hearing the u.s. marines actually detonating ieds before they can actually injure the troops themselves. and the ieds planted within the city were in the city of marjah, in a part of the city that's actually pretty much a ghost town at the moment. the bizarre -- seems very dead. there's no one really walking around. but just a few minutes ago, we did get word that two civilians were injured. a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old boy. but the u.s. navy corpsmen did attend to those injuries. and the information they got from them were the taliban were using their home to fire at the
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u.s. troops. and by doing so, they did have retaliation fire, as well, injuring these two civilians who were later medivacked. also stating there are more taliban fighters waiting for the marines, the afghan troops, and the nato forces and there are ieds planted throughout the farms as well as inside the city itself. t.j.? >> atia, had how would you describe or how would the military describe the level of resistance they are seeing from the taliban that decided to just hunker down there and not leave the city? >> well, right now they're seeing resistance. but the question that remains is that how much more resistance will they see? are the taliban just assessing the situation? and will they have a stronger attack later? what we notice in the past when it comes to taliban in different parts of afghanistan is the nato forces come in.
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they tend to leave and then come back later after assessing the situation. but today they are receiving contact. but the u.s. marines do have a foothold in parts of the city. the question really that remains is just how the taliban will retaliate. this is their last stronghold in helmand province. and it's a very important city to them. marjah is not only one of the strongholds, but at the same time, it provides them money with the narco industry. taliban make over $200,000 a month by the narcotics industry. and on top of that, they also tax afghans who leave on certain check points outside of the city. t.j.? >> and one more before we let you go here, atia. how was the decision made to go when they did go at 2:00 in the morning? how was that decision made
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there? since we did know they'd been talking about, they were going to be coming at some point. how was the decision made? >> reporter: that really depends on what the commanders on the ground decided on. but one thing i can notice out of that is mainly because it was pitch black. it was dark. the marines did have night vision, but at the same time, it was very hard to navigate through the terrain and the farm fields. but -- and the canals and what not. but at the same time, they were able to do it. they did have the four wounded. but like i said, t.j., when the sun came up, the taliban can see their target. and that's when we saw the gun battles began. >> our atia abawi again, she is embedded with u.s. forces on the go right now in marjah. we'll be checking in with you again this morning. we want to go live now to cnn's kate bolduan for more on
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this story. kate, as we look at this afghanistan stance, what does it say politically for the president? >> reporter: absolutely. and what's really at stake for everyone in watching this is that -- the safety and lives of the men and women who are fighting over there. but yes, politically this is very high stakes for president obama. this is the first major offensive since president obama announced that he was sending 30,000 additional troops to fight in afghanistan. and bottom line, this is his war now. although he reluctantly took it. and remember, he did set a deadline for beginning to withdraw troops. so the objective for this mission at large and the mission at large and this operation is to out the taliban and stabilize the country. and hand over control of the country to afghan forces. and that will need to happen and there will need to show success there before the president can ultimately get to his real goal,
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which is to begin withdrawing troops in july 2011. and none of that, betty, is an easy task. >> no, not at all. but when it comes to public support for this, how is that going? and how does the president get the public behind it? >> yeah, also, not an easy task at all. i'm sure showing evidence that there is success in this operation and there's progress being made towards to curing the region and handing back control to the afghan government, that would be the best way to gain more public support. but if you look at the latest cnn poll on this issue, it was conducted just a month ago, it said the majority of americans, 52% oppose the war in afghanistan. again, that is not an easy task, as well, because everyone is watching to see what happens here and as barbara starr was talking about and our people on the ground, this is not an easy thing they're going through. >> and it's only just begun. kate bolduan live from
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washington. and we have much more on this offensive. stay with us, you're watching cnn. it's monday, some people will stick with their old way of getting vitamins and minerals. others will try total raisin bran. with 100% of the daily value of 11 essential vitamins and minerals and the luscious taste of plump, juicy raisins and crunchy whole grain flakes. ... ... guess it's all about what kind of crunch you like. how are you getting 100%?
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we are following another developing story for you, the shooting at the university of alabama. three people dead, three others wounded. an assistant biology professor pulled the trigger. all right, katherine, has anyone been charged? and what are the charges so far?
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>> reporter: yes, an assistant professor has been taken into custody in this case and is facing murder charges this morning in the death of those three faculty members at the university of alabama here in huntsville. also three employees were wounded in this shooting spree. harvard-educated amy bishop was arrested shortly after the shooting spree just outside the building behind me. the shelby sciences building here on campus. that shooting is taking place about 4:00 local time yesterday afternoon. now, the dead in this case include the death of the chairman of biological sciences, padilla, also the deaths included two other associate professors of biology, maria davis and adriel johnson. and as we said three faculty members were wounded. they included associate professors joseph leahy, he's in critical condition this morning. and louise cruz-vera and
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stephanie monticello in stable condition. amy bishop was arrested a few moments after the shooting and the huntsville police chief henry reya says they're looking for that motive in the case. classes have been canceled, betty all next week as well as all of the athletic events and counselors are here at the university this morning in case students need them. and we will have more information as i said, hopefully after that news conference coming at noon. >> all right, catherine callaway, thank you so much for that. you're watching cnn saturday morning. ♪
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checking our top stories right now. a national day of mourning in haiti. one month after the earthquake that devastated the country. thousands of people gathered in port-au-prince yesterday for a remembrance service to honor the dead. more than 212,000 people died and more than 300,000 were injured. well, tune into cnn at 2:00 p.m. eastern today for the video simulcast of quincy jones'
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collaborative remix of "we are the world" all to support haiti relief efforts. a special introduction by grammy and oscar winner jamie foxx, linel ritchie who spearheaded the original with jones will close the simulcast. plus this, the centers for disease control and prevention estimates as many as 17,000 americans have died from the h1n1 flu. only about 2,500 of those deaths are confirmed. health officials blame that on an underreporting of cases which tends to be common with the flu. you may remember after months of the outbreak, doctors began testing only those who were severely sick. well, we hear often about it being the tipping point. we hear that thrown around a lot. but what's happening in afghanistan, could this be the tipping point in the war? well, marjah set the tone from now until the drawdown of u.s. troops sometime next year. that's one of many questions we have this morning for retired
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army lieutenant colonel. thank you for joining us from d.c. a lot of people have a tough time getting into the studio. but thank you for being here. we're finally at this offensive. we've been hearing about it and calling it the worst kept secret for weeks. was that a good move in your opinion to give civilians and also the taliban a heads up? >> yeah, it has to be, t.j. keep in mind, this is a counterinsurgency. you don't want to have any civilian casualties. you want to go in there, remove the bad guys and begin aid. begin bringing the legitimate government. president karzai certainly was, you know, very involved in this process. and i suspect as soon as marjah is secured, it will buy the ana and u.s. nato forces you're going to see all sorts of civilian aid activities, public services restored, you're going to see an effort, which is very critical to provide them an alternative way of getting an income other than growing poppy, making opium, which is used for
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making heroin, which has long been their way of sustaining life in that area. >> and, sir, i talked to other -- talking to a lot of pex earths, it seems like about this offensive. and some told me earlier this week this may not be a turning point. this is such a massive problem and will be going on for so many years rebuilding afghanistan. this is just another step. how important do you see this offensive? >> well, really the objective here, t.j., is to begin to create an ink spot across the southern part -- the most dangerous part of afghanistan where the taliban are. so we occupy the populated areas, put the afghan nationals army and police forces in there and turn it over to them completely so they have civil control and they can begin a regular life once again. and you do this across the entire swath of the area. you're chasing the taliban, the enemy, al qaeda perhaps, back into the mountains. and you're beginning to control
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that entire region. yes, you'll have pockets of resistance in the rural areas. but this is part of the overall strategy. and i think, you know, this is a good timing. >> when you chase them out. when you chase the taliban out. do you have confidence, at least, they won't be able to come back to marjah to make that its hub once again? because what's going to have to be left behind eventually are afghan forces. can they handle the job? >> well, we've been working with the afghan forces for years. they're getting much better. we wouldn't be putting the 3,000 in there if they weren't properly trained. they will be reenforced. we'll have reaction forces should something happen they couldn't handle. so i think as the strategy goes forward as the president and his team have laid it out, we're going to secure each of these areas, we're going to build up this entire region with the type of security and prosperity,
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hopefully, that begins to turn the hearts and the minds of the people. that's the doctrine. it can work, but you have to have the long-term viewpoint and the karzai government has to do its role, as well. >> now, we have a plan laid out and the best laid plans can go awry sometimes. where do you see us maybe making a mistake here. where do you see us in this particular offensive? maybe underestimating how important possibly even that marjah is to the taliban? they're not going to go quietly into the night. >> well, keep in mind, t.j., that for weeks as you indicated early on, we have been announcing our intention of going in there. so what is left? maybe 1,000 taliban sympathizers there have extracted themselves or blended into the population. so we're going to have to root them out eventually. most of the leadership have fled to the south. and they would like to come back. so it's really a matter of really securing the people, providing them an alternative
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life. and this is going to take a lot of time. we just have to be committed to the doctrine, to the idea that people are going to decide when they're ready to really embrace a different way of life. and hopefully this is the beginning. >> all right. we appreciate your expertise. we're going to be talking to you plenty this morning. thank you so much. quick break here. we're right back. i am a mom... wife. and i was a pack a day smoker for 25 years. i do remember sitting down with my boys, and i'm like, "oh, promise mommy you'll never ever pick up a cigarette." and brian looked at me at eight years old and said, "promise me you'll quit." i had to quit. ♪ my doctor gave me a prescription for chantix, a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system. [ male announcer ] chantix is a non-nicotine pill. in studies, 44% of chantix users were quit during weeks 9 to 12 of treatment, compared to 18% on sugar pill.
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it's proven to reduce the urge to smoke. seeing how chantix worked, i wasn't so afraid to try quitting again. [ male announcer ] talk to your doctor about chantix and a support plan that's right for you. some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice agitation, hostility, depression or changes in behavior, thinking or mood that are not typical for you, or if you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. talk to your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which can get worse while taking chantix. some people can have allergic or serious skin reactions to chantix, some of which can be life threatening. if you notice swelling of face, mouth, throat or a rash stop taking chantix and see your doctor right away. tell your doctor which medicines you're taking as they may work differently when you quit smoking. chantix dosing may be different if you have kidney problems. the most common side effect is nausea. patients also reported trouble sleeping and vivid, unusual or strange dreams. until you know how chantix may affect you, use caution when driving or operating machinery.
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chantix should not be taken with other quit-smoking products. ♪ my benjamin, he helped me with the countdown. "ben, how many days has it been?" "5 days, mom. 10 days, mom." i think after 30 days he got tired of counting. [ male announcer ] talk to your doctor to find out if prescription chantix is right for you. [ female announcer ] most people make resolutions... based on what they see on the outside. ♪ this year, focus on what's inside... and let cheerios help tackle your cholesterol. now you could win a free box to get started.

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